Plastic Trumps Silicon in Solar Panel-Making?

According to a UK solar panel expert, silicon—the primary material in solar panel manufacturing today—may soon be a thing of the past. So what material has the versatility to take its place? You guessed it: plastic.

While there is a variety of reasons plastic trumps silicone, it comes down to three main points: flexibility, weight and cost. Not only is plastic much cheaper to produce, it can easily be rolled up and installed on a variety of surfaces.

Generally, commercial plastic acts as an insulator, the opposite of what solar panels are required to do. To change this, the molecular structure needs to be “tweaked” somewhat.

But according to experts, mass-producing this new kind of plastic is something that can happen in the near future.

In fact, Konarka, a U.S.-based tech company, is already using this plastic on everything from luggage to parasols, and San Francisco has outfitted local bus shelters with it.

The only problem now is making it as energy-efficient as silicon, which has an efficiency rating of 15-18%, while plastic is only at 7-8%.

If all goes as planned, this technology could be on the market in as soon as 5 to 10 years.

Have any Question or Comment?

3 comments on “Plastic Trumps Silicon in Solar Panel-Making?

Charles Ogilvie

Key issue at present is also lifespan. Most plastics degrade pretty quickly and few plastic pvs are much use after 4-5 years under standard conditions. Crystalline and other silicon substrate techs have done 25+years in the field with only limited losses in their original efficiencies.

Making a solar panel would be very fun and challenging especially using plastic trumps silicon. I think this is a very good idea of passing a leisure time and this is not very costly too.

silicone solar main material.

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